Acxiom Corp: The Faceless Organization That Knows Everything About You
by Soren Dreier
An Arkansas company you’ve probably never heard of knows more about you than some of your friends, Google, and even the FBI — and it’s selling your data.
When you think of the surveillance state, you usually think of snoopy alphabet-soup government agencies like the FBI, IRS, DEA, NSA, or TSA, or cyber-snoops at Facebook or Google, says Natasha Singer in The New York Times.
But there’s a company you’ve probably never heard of that “peers deeper into American life,” and probably knows more about you than any of those groups: Little Rock–based Acxiom Corp. Jeffrey Chester at the Center for Digital Democracy has dubbed Acxiom “Big Brother in Arkansas,” while Gizmodo’s Jamie Condliffe calls it the “faceless organization that knows everything about you.” Here’s what you should know about the company:
What is Acxiom Corp., and what does it do?
The company fits into a category called database marketing. It started in 1969 as an outfit called Demographics Inc., using phone books and other notably low-tech tools, as well as one computer, to amass information on voters and consumers for direct marketing.
Almost 40 years later, Acxiom has detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide. More than 23,000 servers in Conway, just north of Little Rock, collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year. “In essence, it’s as if the ore of our data-driven lives were being mined, refined, and sold to the highest bidder, usually without our knowledge,” says The Times’ Singer.
What kind of data does it have?
“If you are an American adult,” says Singer, “the odds are that it knows things like your age, race, sex, weight, height, marital status, education level, politics, buying habits, household health worries, vacation dreams — and on and on.” It does more than collect that information, though.
It uses it to pigeonhole people into one of 70 very specific socioeconomic clusters in an attempt to predict how they’ll act, what they’ll buy, and how companies can persuade them to buy their products. It gathers its data trove from public records, surveys you’ve filled out, your online behavior, and other disparate sources of information, then sells it to banks, retailers, and other buyers.
Do other companies do this, too?
Yes, it’s a very competitive and lucrative business — Acxiom reported a $77.26 million profit last fiscal year, and it’s the No. 2 company in the business, after Epsilon. But analysts say that Acxiom has the world’s largest database on consumers.
“There are a lot of players in the digital space trying the same thing,” Piper Jaffray analyst Mark Zgutowicz tells The New York Times. “But Acxiom’s advantage is they have a database of offline information that they have been collecting for 40 years and can leverage that expertise in the digital world.”
Details of police monitoring used for the first time during the tournament were discussed at a privacy forum in Wellington yesterday, at which it was revealed that the average person is digitally recorded about a dozen times a day – and even more if they use email and social media frequently.
Superintendent Grant O’Fee told the forum how one incident at the Rugby World Cup “tweaked in my head” a concern about possible privacy breaches.
Camera operators who were scanning the crowd for unruly behaviour or suspicious packages chose to zoom in on a person who was texting.
“He was actually texting about the poor quality of the game of rugby. But it did occur to me that there was an issue there – had he been texting something that was of some consequence to us, there may have been privacy issues.”
He confirmed later that the level of monitoring used during the World Cup would continue for all big test matches.
CCTV now operates inside many buildings, including hospitals, supermarkets, malls, and around public toilets.
There are 11 cameras in Wellington city centre, recording 24 hours a day.
In Britain, drone cameras, mobile cameras on cars and cameras on police helmets are in frequent use.
Soon, technology will exist that can pick up on raised voices, and sniffing devices will be able to detect drug residue, Stirling University lecturer William Webster told the forum.
Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff said some overseas developments were amazing and she imagined there would be concern if and when that technology was implemented in New Zealand.
Civil liberties lawyer Michael Bott warned against becoming desensitised to digital surveillance.
“It’s quite worrying when we, by default, move to some sort of Orwellian 1984 where the state or Big Brother watches your every move. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and we don’t realise what we are giving up when we give the state the power to monitor our private lives.”
Ms Shroff said that, although reading someone’s text messages in public could cause concern, the legitimacy of the action depended on what it was used for.
“We need to be aware of that – that potentially texting in a public place can be caught on a CCTV camera. If the text showed the person was plotting a riot or something, then it might well be legitimate for the police to use that under the coverage of exemption for law-enforcement activities.
Ad Feedback “But if they were to use it simply out of nosiness, that might not be exempt,” she said.
Former detective Trevor Morley said the average person had nothing to fear if they were not doing anything illegal.
“The only people who need to be concerned about these advances in technology that the police are using are the people who are abusing it, or the people who are acting in an anti-social manner.”
Ms Shroff added that education and awareness of surveillance tactics were crucial.
“The law can do only so much. There are many, many great uses for the technology and we just have to make sure we balance those so it doesn’t become ridiculously intrusive into our lives.”
YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT
Your Digital FootprintAn average person is digitally recorded about a dozen times a day, and more if they use email and social media frequently
There are 11 CCTV cameras throughout Wellington city centre, recording 24 hours a day
Movement can be tracked through mobile phones and computers
Work access cards can be used to track your location
CCTV operates inside many buildings, including hospitals, supermarkets, malls, and around public toilets
Any online search, online purchase, eftpos or credit card transaction, or smartcard used for car parking is recorded
Social media usage is tracked and used for marketing and advertising.
Mandatory ‘Big Brother’ Black Boxes In All New Cars From 2015
Paul Joseph Watson
A bill already passed by the Senate and set to be rubber stamped by the House would make it mandatory for all new cars in the United States to be fitted with black box data recorders from 2015 onwards.
Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813 (known as MAP-21), calls for “Mandatory Event Data Recorders” to be installed in all new automobiles and legislates for civil penalties to be imposed against individuals for failing to do so.
“Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part,” states the bill.
Although the text of legislation states that such data would remain the property of the owner of the vehicle, the government would have the power to access it in a number of circumstances, including by court order, if the owner consents to make it available, and pursuant to an investigation or inspection conducted by the Secretary of Transportation.
Given the innumerable examples of both government and industry illegally using supposedly privacy-protected information to spy on individuals, this represents the slippery slope to total Big Brother surveillance of every American’s transport habits and location data.
The legislation, which has been given the Orwellian title ‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act’, sailed through the Senate after being heavily promoted by Democrats Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer and is also expected to pass the Republican-controlled House.
Given the fact that the same bill also includes a controversial provision that would empower the IRS to revoke passports of citizens merely accused of owing over $50,000 in back taxes, stripping them of their mobility rights, could the mandatory black boxes or a similar technology be used for the same purpose?
A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Biometric face-recognition and transdermol sensor technology that prevents an inebriated person from driving a car by disabling the automobile has already been developed, in addition to systems that refuse to allow the vehicle to start if the driver is deemed to be overtired.
The ultimate Big Brother scenario would be a system whereby every driver had to get de facto permission from the state to drive each time they get behind the wheel, once it had been determined from an iris scan that they were good citizens who have paid all their taxes and not misbehaved.
The push to pressure car manufacturers to install black box tracking devices in all new cars has been ongoing for over a decade. In 2006, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encouraged but did not require automobile manufacturers to install the systems.
However, in February last year NHTSA administrator David Strickland said the government was considering making the technology mandatory in the wake of recalls of millions of Toyota vehicles.
Earlier this year it was reported that the NHTSA would soon formally announce that all new cars would be mandated to have the devices fitted by law, which has now been codified into the MAP-21 bill.
Gov’t cameras in your car? E-toll patent hints at Big Brotherish future
By Bob Sullivan
Imagine that you couldn’t drive on major highways without agreeing to put a camera in your car — one that could film either the occupants or the vehicle’s surroundings and transmit the images back to a central office for inspection.
You don’t have to read George Orwell to conjure up such an ominous surveillance state. You just have to skim through filings at the U.S. Patent Office.
It’s hard to imagine Americans would tolerate such a direct, Big-Brotherish intrusion. But they might not notice if the all-seeing cameras were tucked inside another kind of government tracking technology that millions of Americans have already invited into their cars.
Kapsch TrafficCom AG, an Austrian company that just signed a 10-year contract to provide in-car transponders such as the E-Z Pass to 22 electronic highway toll collection systems around the U.S., recently filed a patent on technology to add multi-function mini-cameras to their toll gadgets. Today, transponders are in about 22 million cars around the U.S. Adding inward and outward facing cameras to the gadgets would create surveillance capabilities far beyond anything government agencies have tried until now.
The stated reason for an inward-pointing camera is to verify the number of occupants in the car for enforcement of HOV and HOT lanes. The outward-pointing camera could be used for the same purpose, helping authorities enforce minimum occupant rules against drivers who aren’t carrying transponders.
But it’s easy to imagine other uses. The patent says the transponders would have the ability to store and transmit pictures, either at random intervals or on command from a central office. It would be tempting to use them as part of a search for a lost child, for example, and law enforcement officials might find the data treasure trove irresistible. The gadget could also be instructed to take pictures when the acceleration of a car “exceeds a threshold,” or when accidents occur, so it could be used like an airplane cockpit flight recorder.
It’s important to note that a patent filing is a far cry from the invention and manufacturing of a new product. Many patent filings are nothing more than a defensive measure taken to protect the farthest reaches of intellectual property. Officials at Kapsch declined to be interviewed for this story, but in a statement said that citizens shouldn’t read too much into the filing.
“This patent filing is part of the standard intellectual property protection process followed by every company that invests in research and development,” said Erwin Toplak, chief operating officer of Kapsch, in an e-mail. “Kapsch, for example, files approximately 20 patent applications a year. This process protects our unique ideas; it does not signify that a commercial product is in development or even contemplated .”
And P.J. Wilkins, executive director of the E-Z Pass Group consortium that manages the massive toll collection cooperative, said he hadn’t even heard of camera technology when told about the patent by msnbc.com.
“It’s not an upgrade we are working on here,” said. “We just signed a long-term contract with them and this wasn’t a requirement.”
Enforcement of HOV and HOT lanes is a labor-intensive and expensive issue for many state agencies, he said, and he understood why a company like Kapsch would try to invent a technology to deal with the problem, But he said he couldn’t imagine it being used in the E-Z Pass system.
“Before anyone goes down that road there’s a whole host of questions that would have to be answered,” he said. “What’s the impact on privacy? What’s the impact on the data stream? I just don’t think it’s something that would gain a lot of traction.”
Kapsch sells its technology in 41 countries around the globe, and 64 million cars worldwide have been outfitted with its transponders, according to the firm’s website. Occupant cameras could be attractive, and more acceptable, outside the U.S.
And while it’s possible cameras-in-cars technology would be a non-starter in America, that doesn’t mean Americans shouldn’t be worried, said Lee Tien, a privacy expert with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“I think (drivers) should be pretty concerned,” he said. “You want to make sure any use of that technology is very carefully regulated. People should let the E-Z Pass folks know now what they think about any possible plans to introduce cameras in their cars, now, while it’s being developed, rather than before it’s already a fait accompli, and some agency says it’s already spent millions on it and can’t turn back now.”
Tien said there’s nothing inherently bad about using new technology to enforce tolls, but he cautioned against what is sometimes called “surveillance spillover.” Technology designed for one function is inevitably used by law enforcement officials and other government agencies in unintended ways.
“You could imagine that they could limit the capacity of devices — say the images would be destroyed after a very short period of time — so it would not be as powerful a surveillance device. But that’s not the general dynamic,” he said. “Once you have the device out there, someone says, ‘Why not use it for this, or that.’ That’s usually where the battle between privacy and other social goals is lost.”
The dynamic is playing out right now in a European scandal surrounding use of a secret government program used by German law enforcement officials to monitor citizens’ Internet behavior through the use of Trojan horse software called R2D2. German courts had permitted use of the software only when officials were fulfilling a legal wiretap order, and only to listen in on Skype conversations. But the R2D2 Trojan has allegedly been used by German authorities to send thousands of screen shots detailing suspects’ Internet explorations, to keylog their typing, and in a host of other potentially illegal evidence-gathering methods.
The solution, says Tien, is to design privacy right into the gadget in the first place, to minimize the inevitable temptations for law enforcement and security officials.
“It doesn’t bother me that (Kapsch) filed this patent. Surveillance technology is constantly being developed. There is money in surveillance,” he said. “The question is less about lamenting the invention of these things and more about questioning our demand for surveillance, and thinking about the kind of society we are building and encouraging when we legitimize the continual, gradual architecting of the social world into a surveillance society.”
News of the camera patents comes as electronic toll collection continues to expand around the U.S. — and while options for using the systems anonymously have finally become commonplace. After years of complaints from skeptics that E-Z Pass toll paying created an undesirable public record that could be used to track individuals, systems in Texas and Washington state now allow users to register for the devices without disclosing their identities. And a new “E-Z Pass On the Go” gadget is being sold in the Eastern U.S. that functions much like a disposable prepaid phone card, allowing anonymous use of the E-Z Pass tolls.
E-Z Pass has had to beat back a lot of conspiracy theories through the years, Wilkins noted — such as the idea that the gadgets would be used to catch speeders and issue tickets. E-Z Pass users now register very few complaints, he said, and are overwhelmingly happy with a system that helps them avoid delays at long toll booth lines.
“The whole tracking thing is a bogus argument,” said Wilkins. “If you have a cell phone you are being tracked anyway. Law enforcement can get to cell phone records just as easily (as E-Z Pass records). And the phone company keeps that data a very long time.”
FBI to launch nationwide facial recognition service
By Aliya Sternstein
The FBI by mid-January will activate a nationwide facial recognition service in select states that will allow local police to identify unknown subjects in photos, bureau officials told Nextgov.
The federal government is embarking on a multiyear, $1 billion dollar overhaul of the FBI’s existing fingerprint database to more quickly and accurately identify suspects, partly through applying other biometric markers, such as iris scans and voice recordings.
Often law enforcement authorities will “have a photo of a person and for whatever reason they just don’t know who it is [but they know] this is clearly the missing link to our case,” said Nick Megna, a unit chief at the FBI’s criminal justice information services division. The new facial recognition service can help provide that missing link by retrieving a list of mug shots ranked in order of similarity to the features of the subject in the photo.
Today, an agent would have to already know the name of an individual to pull up the suspect’s mug shot from among the 10 million shots stored in the bureau’s existing Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Using the new Next-Generation Identification system that is under development, law enforcement analysts will be able to upload a photo of an unknown person; choose a desired number of results from two to 50 mug shots; and, within 15 minutes, receive identified mugs to inspect for potential matches. Users typically will request 20 candidates, Megna said. The service does not provide a direct match.
Michigan, Washington, Florida and North Carolina will participate in a test of the new search tool this winter before it is offered to criminal justice professionals across the country in 2014 as part of NGI. The project, which was awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp. in 2008, already has upgraded the FBI’s fingerprint matching service.
Local authorities have the choice to file mug shots with the FBI as part of the booking process. The bureau expects its collection of shots to rival its repository of 70 million fingerprints once more officers are aware of the facial search’s capabilities.
Thomas E. Bush III, who helped develop NGI’s system requirements when he served as assistant director of the CJIS division between 2005 and 2009, said, “The idea was to be able to plug and play with these identifiers and biometrics.” Law enforcement personnel saw value in facial recognition and the technology was maturing, said the 33-year FBI veteran who now serves as a private consultant.
NGI’s incremental construction seems to align with the White House’s push to deploy new information technology in phases so features can be scrapped if they don’t meet expectations or run over budget.
But immigrant rights groups have raised concerns that the Homeland Security Department, which exchanges digital prints with the FBI, will abuse the new facial recognition component. Currently, a controversial DHS immigrant fingerprinting program called Secure Communities runs FBI prints from booked offenders against the department’s IDENT biometric database to check whether they are in the country illegally. Homeland Security officials say they extradite only the most dangerous aliens, including convicted murderers and rapists. But critics say the FBI-DHS print swapping ensnares as many foreigners as possible, including those whose charges are minor or are ultimately dismissed.
Megna said Homeland Security is not part of the facial recognition pilot. But, Bush said in the future NGI’s data, including the photos, will be accessible by Homeland Security’s IDENT.
The planned addition of facial searches worries Sunita Patel, a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, who said, “Any database of personal identity information is bound to have mistakes. And with the most personal immutable traits like our facial features and fingerprints, the public can’t afford a mistake.”
In addition, Patel said she is concerned about the involvement of local police in information sharing for federal immigration enforcement purposes. “The federal government is using local cops to create a massive surveillance system,” she said.
Bush said, “We do have the capability to search against each other’s systems,” but added, “if you don’t come to the attention of law enforcement you don’t have anything to fear from these systems.”
Other civil liberties advocates questioned whether the facial recognition application would retrieve mug shots of those who have simply been arrested. “It might be appropriate to have nonconvicted people out of that system,” said Jim Harper, director of information policy at the libertarian Cato Institute. FBI officials declined to comment on the recommendation.
Harper also noted large-scale searches may generate a lot of false positives, or incorrect matches. Facial recognition “is more accurate with a Google or a Facebook, because they will have anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen pictures of an individual, whereas I imagine the FBI has one or two mug shots,” he said.
FBI officials would not disclose the name of the search product or the vendor, but said they gained insights on the technique’s accuracy by studying research from the National Institutes for Standards and Technology.
In responding to concerns about the creation of a Big Brother database for tracking innocent Americans, Megna said the system will not alter the FBI’s authorities or the way it conducts business. “This doesn’t change or create any new exchanges of data,” he said. “It only provides [law enforcement] with a new service to determine what photos are of interest to them.”
In 2008, the FBI released a privacy impact assessment summarizing its appraisal of controls in place to ensure compliance with federal privacy regulations. Megna said that, during meetings with the CJIS Advisory Policy Board and the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Council, “we haven’t gotten a whole lot of pushback on the photo capability.”
The FBI has an elaborate system of checks and balances to guard fingerprints, palm prints, mug shots and all manner of criminal history data, he said.
“This is not something where we want to collect a bunch of surveillance film” and enter it in the system, Megna said. “That would be useless to us. It would be useless to our users.”
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Challenges to red light cameras span US Studies touting safety benefits sometimes contradictory, incomplete
By Alex Johnson Reporter
In more than 500 cities and towns in 25 states, silent sentries keep watch over intersections, snapping photos and shooting video of drivers who run red lights. The cameras are on the job in metropolises like Houston and Chicago and in small towns like Selmer, Tenn., population 4,700, where a single camera setup monitors traffic at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and Mulberry Avenue.
One of the places is Los Angeles, where, if the Police Commission gets its way, the red light cameras will have to come down in a few weeks. That puts the nation’s second-largest city at the leading edge of an anti-camera movement that appears to have been gaining traction across the country in recent weeks.
A City Council committee is considering whether to continue the city’s camera contract over the objections of the commission, which voted unanimously to remove the camera system, which shoots video of cars running red lights at 32 of the city’s thousands of intersections. The private Arizona company that installed the cameras and runs the program mails off $446 tickets to their registered owners.
The company’s contract will expire at the end of July if the council can’t reach a final agreement to renew it.
Opponents of the cameras often argue that they are really just revenue engines for struggling cities and towns, silently dinging motorists for mostly minor infractions. And while guidelines issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say revenue is an invalid justification for the use of the eyes in the sky (see box at right), camera-generated citations do spin off a lot of money in many cities — the nearly 400 cameras in Chicago, for example, generated more than $64 million in 2009, the last year for which complete figures were available.
Los Angeles hasn’t been so lucky.
The city gets only a third of the revenue generated by camera citations, many of which go unpaid anyway because judges refuse to enforce them, the city controller’s office reported last year. It found in an audit that if you add it all up, operating the cameras has cost $1 million to $1.5 million a year more than they’ve generated in fines, even as “the program has not been able to document conclusively an increase in public safety.”
Federal camera guidelines
The Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration says red light cameras and other automated traffic controls should:
• Reduce the frequency of violations.
• Maximize safety improvements with the most efficient use of resources.
• Maximize public awareness and approval.
• Maximize perceived likelihood that violators will be caught.
• Enhance the capabilities of traffic law enforcement and supplement, rather than replace, traffic stops by officers.
• Emphasize deterrence rather than punishment.
• Emphasize safety rather than revenue generation.
• Maintain program transparency by educating the public about program operations and be prepared to explain and justify decisions that affect program operations.
Source: Speed Enforcement Camera Systems Operational Guidelines, Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Another common refrain from critics is that the devices replace a human officer’s judgment and discretion with the cold, unforgiving algorithms of a machine.
“You’ve got to treat people fairly,” said Jay Beeber, executive director of Safer Streets LA, who has led the campaign to kill the city’s red light cameras. “You have to give people a fighting chance that you’re not going to penalize them for a minor lapse of judgment.”
Paul Kubosh, a lawyer who has led a similar anti-camera fight in Houston, called the camera systems “a scam on the public,” because they “are writing tickets that police officers don’t write.”
There’s a fierce court battle going on in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, after a U.S. district judge this week ruled that a measure voters approved to shut down the city’s more than 70 cameras was invalid on procedural grounds.
Could hundreds of lives be saved?
More than a dozen large studies over the past decade have concluded that the cameras reduce accidents and injuries. The most recent, published in February by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, crunched 10 years of federal traffic data for the 99 largest U.S. cities — 14 of which now deploy cameras — and calculated that had all 99 installed the devices, 815 lives would have been saved from 2004 through 2008.
“We still have thousands of people who die,” said Adrian Lund, the Insurance Institute’s president. “We look at where and how that’s happening, and one of the most dangerous (locations) is intersections.”
Citing reports like that, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which coincidentally is headed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, this week approved a resolution endorsing nationwide adoption of red light cameras.
And yet, in addition to the votes in Los Angeles and Houston:
The Albuquerque, N.M., City Council voted this month to let residents vote on the future of the city’s 20 red light cameras in October. (City lawyers are still weighing whether the vote would have any official effect.)
In May, a Missouri circuit judge issued a preliminary ruling saying the measure that authorized St. Louis’ 51 cameras was illegally enacted.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said he would sign a bill the Legislature passed last month to limit — though not ban outright — localities’ use of cameras at intersections.
The North Carolina Senate voted in April to ban cameras; the measure awaits House action.
The Florida House passed a bill last month to ban red light cameras; the measure failed in the Senate.
A Superior Court judge last week struck down the law that enacted use of cameras in Spokane, Wash., agreeing that citations generated by the cameras were invalid because they were not personally signed by a police officer.
Often, the cameras lead to fines — and depending on the jurisdiction, costly points on drivers’ records — for borderline infractions like failing to come to a complete stop before making a right turn. (That infraction makes up two-thirds of the citations issued at camera-monitored intersections in Los Angeles, even though it rarely leads to an accident, the controller’s audit reported.)
Other common complaints are that the automated citations violate due process and equal protection rights — often, there’s no officer to confront in court — and invade motorists’ privacy. Challenges to red light cameras
Besides questions about the reliability of safety research and the use of cameras as revenue generators, challenges to the devices have raised these issues:
• Due process and equal protection. Defendants have argued that enforcement is selective because not all violators receive tickets, that assuming the driver is also the owner shifts the burden of proof from prosecutors to defendants, that different punishments for tickets issued by a machine and by an officer violate the 14th Amendment, that delays in processing and sending out tickets violate due process protections and that warning signs are frequently unclear or incorrectly placed.
• Search and seizure. At least two lawsuits have argued that issuing a citation based on a photograph amounts to an unconstitutional seizure of the vehicle.
• Privacy. While some anti-camera advocates argue that the cameras are an invasion of privacy, no such challenges have been raised in court, according to research by Carlos Sun, a lawyer and engineering professor at the University of Missouri, who writes: “Driving is a regulated activity on public roads. By obtaining a license, a motorist agrees to abide by certain rules including, for example, to obey traffic signals.”
Sources: msnbc.com research; “Is Robocop a Cash Cow?” (Carlos Sun, University of Missouri, November 2010)
Leslie Blakey, executive director of the nonprofit Campaign to Stop Red Light Running, which advocates for red light cameras, said opponents have fought the devices since they started taking root about a decade ago. She broke the opposition down into two camps: “civil libertarians who resist the imposition of automated enforcement” and “people who got tickets and just don’t like it.”
Beeber, of Safer Streets LA, agreed that “as more people get tickets, they start getting mad about it,” saying: “You start doing that year after year after year and you start generating enough anger in the populace and it gets to the tipping point.”
What’s changed in the last couple of years, Blakey said, is the “ability of people to organize online and form communities and organize actions that are well-orchestrated” on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
“These things are becoming more and more useful to a small minority of people who want to mount an action against anything,” she said.
In response, Blakey’s group points to the Insurance Institute study and others like it that conclude the “red light cameras lead to significant decreases in intersection violations and crashes.”
Large studies produce wide range of results
This is where things get muddy, because hard research on the effect of red light cameras in the United States is incomplete and often contradictory.
That includes the widely reported Insurance Institute study from February. Like nearly all other studies over the past decade, that report found a significant decline in deaths from red light accidents in cities that use cameras. But deaths from U.S. roadway accidents of all kinds have dropped significantly — by 13.1 percent — during the study period of 2004 through 2008, data from the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration show.
32 Signs That The Entire World Is Being Transformed Into A Futuristic Big Brother Prison Grid
Do you want your children and grandchildren to live in a futuristic “big brother” control grid where everything they do is watched, recorded, tracked and tightly controlled? Well, that is exactly where things are headed. We witnessed some really bad totalitarian regimes during the 20th century, but what is coming is going to be far more restrictive than any of the despots of the past ever dreamed was possible. Today, nearly every government on earth is tightening their grip on their citizens. Paranoia has become standard operating procedure all over the planet and nobody is to be trusted. Global politicians will give speeches about liberty and freedom even as they undermine them at every turn. There are very, very few nations on the planet where liberty and freedom are increasing. Instead, almost everywhere you turn the “control grid” is getting tighter. Governments don’t want us gathering together and interacting with one another. Instead, they want us to work our tails off to support the system, they want us enslaved financially and constantly drowning in debt, and they want us addicted to television and other forms of entertainment. They want us as numb and docile as possible. Meanwhile, all over the globe they continue to construct a futuristic “big brother” control grid that will ensure that they will always be able to control us.
Sadly, this is not the plot to some post-apocalyptic science fiction movie.
This is really happening.
When you read the list below, each of the 32 signs may not seem to be all that significant individually. However, when they are all taken together, they paint a truly frightening picture….
#1 The days of the free and open Internet are slowly coming to an end. Many nations around the world have implemented strict Internet censorship and many other nations are moving in that direction. With each passing year the level of freedom on the Internet diminishes.
Regulation of the Internet has even become a primary topic of discussion at G-8 meetings. According to The New York Times, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is leading the charge for a more “civilized Internet”….
Leaders of the Group of 8 industrialized countries are set to issue a provocative call for stronger Internet regulation, a cause championed by the host of the meeting, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, but fiercely opposed by some Internet companies and free-speech groups.
Why are free speech groups strongly opposing what Sarkozy is trying to do?
It is because western governments want to kill liberty and freedom on the Internet just like China is doing. The Internet has been a great tool for waking people up and distributing information, and the control freaks that want to run all of our lives do not like that one bit.
#2 Internet censorship in China, the largest nation on earth, is absolutely brutal. The Chinese government blocks any websites that talk about such topics as the Dalai Lama, the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters and Falun Gong.
Even web searches for the English word “freedom” are blocked.
#3 Starting next year, all new cellphones will be required to contain a chip that will allow the president to broadcast “emergency alerts” to the cellphones whenever the president wants. Cellphone users will not be allowed to opt out of the presidential messages.
The following is how a CBS news report describes the new system….
A new national alert system is set to begin in New York City that will alert the public to emergencies via cell phones.
It’s called the Personal Localized Alert Network or PLAN. Presidential and local emergency messages as well as Amber Alerts would appear on cell phones equipped with special chips and software.
#4 The U.K. has more surveillance cameras per citizen than anywhere else in the world. In fact, according to one estimate, there are 4.8 million video cameras constantly watching every move citizens make.
#5 A “certified TSA official” was brought in to oversee student searches at the Santa Fe High School prom last weekend.
Will this kind of thing soon be happening at every high school in America?
#6 The U.S. Department of Agriculture is spending huge amounts of money to install surveillance cameras in the cafeterias of public schools so that government control freaks can closely monitor what our children are eating.
The following is how a recent article posted on Infowars.com describes this new program….
Billed as part of an effort to reduce obesity and improve eating habits, small cameras are programmed to take snapshots of lunch trays before and after each student eats. Each child is uniquely identifiable via a barcode attached to the tray. The amount of calories and nutrients that each child has consumed is then calculated via a database containing 7,500 different varieties of food.
#7 The EU is spending hundreds of millions of euros on propaganda campaigns in an attempt to convince the citizens of Europe that the EU is good for them.
#8 Today, FBI surveillance teams regularly employ warrantless GPS tracking to monitor the movements of peaceful activists – even if they are not suspected of ever committing a crime. The Obama administration is fighting in court to keep this practice legal.
#9 According to FBI Director Robert Mueller, “homegrown terrorists” represent as big a threat to American national security as al-Qaeda does.
#10 Federal VIPR teams are establishing a series of “internal checkpoints” all across the United States. The following is how a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson described these VIPR team activities….
The TSA has announced its intention to expand the VIPR program to include roadside inspections of commercial vehicles, setting up a network of internal checkpoints and rolling out security procedures already active in airports, bus terminals and subway stations to roads and highways across the United States.
By the way, who in the world decided that it would be a good idea to call them “VIPR teams”?
What is next? Are we going to find out that the TSA has hired Cobra Commander and Destro as consultants?
#11 Thousands of “dysfunctional” families in the U.K. are being subjected to intensive 24-hour surveillance to make sure that their children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.
#12 U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer says that Amtrak should have a “no ride list” similar to the “no fly list” used at U.S. airports.
Before you can get on an airplane today, your name is checked to make sure that it is not on any international watch lists.
So what do you have to do to get on an international watch list?
Nobody really knows.
What is next?
A “no breathe list”?
#13 U.K. authorities are now admitting that every phone call, text message, email and website visit made by private citizens will be stored for one year and will be available for monitoring by government agencies.
#14 The amount of cell phone surveillance that goes on is absolutely staggering. For example, one German politician named Malte Spitz recently went to court to force Deutsche Telekom to reveal how often his cell phone was being tracked. What he found out was absolutely amazing. It turns out that in just one 6 month period, Deutsche Telekom recorded the longitude and latitude coordinates of his cell phone 35,000 times.
#15 DARPA has now developed new video surveillance technology that many are warning will bring about the end of public anonymity. The following is how the ExtremeTech blog is describing this new technology….
To be in public is to be on camera, but most video footage is discarded, as only so much can be sorted and analyzed — until now. DARPA has created a technology that can index and analyze video in real-time, marking the end of anonymity in public places.
#16 In the U.K., it is now illegal to photograph the police for any reason whatsoever.
#17 Police in the U.K. have purchased software that will enable them to easily follow the “digital footprints” of virtually anyone. The following is how one recent news report in the U.K. described this new software….
The Metropolitan Police has bought Geotime, a security programme used by the U.S. military which tracks suspects’ movements and communications and displays them on a three-dimensional graphic.
The software aggregates information gathered from social networking sites, GPS devices like the iPhone, mobile phones, financial transactions and IP network logs to build a detailed picture of an individual’s movements.
#18 In Tacoma, Washington a seventh grade student was recently questioned by the Secret Service about a message that he posted on his Facebook page.
Be very careful about what you put up on Facebook or Twitter. The entire world can see it.
#19 According to the ACLU, state police in Michigan are using “extraction devices” to download data from the cellphones of motorists that they pull over. This is taking place even if those pulled over are not accused of doing anything wrong.
The following is how an article on CNET News describes the capabilities of these “extraction devices”….
The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.
#20 Last year, one shocking poll found that 51 percent of Americans agree with this statement: “It is necessary to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safe from terrorism.”
#21 The MPAA and RIAA have submitted their master plan for enforcing copyright rights to the new Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement and it includes installing spyware on everyone’s computers that would detect and delete any infringing materials.
#22 The U.K.’s new Internet law includes a “three strikes” rule that allows your entire family to be cut off from the Internet if anyone who lives in your house is accused of copyright infringement – without proof or evidence or trial.
#23 Would you like to have your face scanned and your ID recorded every time you attend a public event? Don’t laugh. The San Francisco Entertainment Commission is actually proposing a new rule which “would require all venues with an occupancy of over 100 people to record the faces of all patrons and employees and scan their ID’s for storage in a database which they must hand over to law enforcement on request.”
#24 Today, the U.S. government and governments all over the industrialized world have become so obsessed with reducing carbon emissions that now they even tell us what kinds of light bulbs we are allowed to buy.
#25 The Obama administration is developing a universal “Internet ID” program that would watch, track, monitor and potentially control your activity on the Internet. These “trusted identities” are being touted as a way to increase safety and security on the Internet and as a way to eliminate the need for dozens of different usernames and passwords.
#26 As I have written about previously, the “Internet kill switch” is rapidly becoming one of the favorite new tools of tyrannical governments all over the globe….
Once upon a time, the Internet was a bastion of liberty and freedom, but now nation after nation is cracking down on it. In fact, legislation has been introduced once again in Congress that would give the president of the United States an “Internet kill switch” that he would be able to use in the event of war or emergency. Of course there would be a whole lot of wiggle room in determining what actually constitutes a true “emergency”. The members of Congress that are pushing this “Internet kill switch” bill want the U.S. to become more like China in this regard.
#27 A shocking document released by Wikileaks proves that high level U.S. government officials have been pushing for North American integration. According to the document, some of the goals of this integration would be to turn North America into an economic zone similar to the EU, to have one common currency for the entire continent and to have one common “security perimeter” for the entire continent.
Let us hope that a plan like this never comes to pass.
#28 One of the most liberty-killing pieces of legislation in recent years was the Patriot Act. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Republicans and the vast majority of Democrats will never vote against the renewal of the Patriot Act because they don’t want to look “soft” on terrorism.
About the only U.S. Senator to stand up against the Patriot Act is Rand Paul. He is doing all he can to fight a one man battle against the Patriot Act but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is doing his best to extend the Patriot Act without any debate taking place.
Top Democrats are attempting to claim that even debating the renewal of Patriot Act provisions would “endanger” national security.
Of course most Republicans are not going to stand in the way because they absolutely love the Patriot Act.
If you still believe that the Patriot Act is a good idea, you should watch this video, and you should read this recent article.
#29 If you display the wrong political message on your car, you may find law enforcement officials cracking down on you.
A 73-year-old Virginia resident was recently kicked out of a national park for displaying a sticker promoting “Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty” on his car.
The following is an excerpt from a recent Rutherford Institute report about this incident….
The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a 73-year-old Virginia resident who was allegedly ordered by a park ranger to remove his car from a national military park in South Carolina because of political messages attached to his vehicle. Jack Faw, whose ancestors fought in the historic battle memorialized at Kings Mountain National Military Park, contacted The Rutherford Institute after being told by a park ranger that the decal promoting a political organization associated with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), which was displayed on the back window of Faw’s car, was not allowed in the park.
#30 Brutal crowd control techniques are not just for major events anymore. Recently, riot police in Illinois used tear gas, LRAD sound weapons and crowd suppression tactics against a bunch of college students that were just blowing off some steam at a year-end block party at Western Illinois University.
#31 The U.S. government is gathering more information on all of us than ever before. According to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, every six hours the volume of information that the NSA gathers is equivalent to the entire Library of Congress.
Nobody is anonymous anymore. The truth is that the U.S. government, governments across the globe and major international corporations have more information about you than you probably ever dared to imagine.
#32 If you think things are bad now, just wait until you see what global authorities have planned for the future.
Are you ready to live in a “Planned-opolis”? Are you ready to use a “calorie card” and to have what you eat determined by a “global food council”?
The following video was originally produced by the Forum for the Future, a major NGO funded by big corporations such as Time Warner and Royal Dutch Shell. In this video, the Forum for the Future presents their chilling version of the future….
If you don’t want to live in a “Planned-opolis” where everything you do is constantly watched, tracked and controlled by a horde of bureaucrats then you better say something now.
The entire globe is moving in the direction of totalitarianism. Our world is literally becoming a prison grid. Of course those in power say that we need more regulation and more control “for the good of humanity”, but that has never worked out too well in the past, now has it?
If you don’t like the direction this world is headed then now is the time to stand up and let your voice be heard. If you wait until they are ripping the last shreds of liberty and freedom away from you it will be too late.
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In an astounding cover story for the March 21 issue of TIME called ‘Your Data for Sale,’ author Joel Stein tells readers to simply “get over” constant surveillance. The tagline, “Everything about you is being tracked– get over it” puts the issue in your face. Yeah, get over it, and the TSA porno-scanners and grope-downs, too.
Newsweek, like TIME, another Skull and Bones-dominated media organ, similarly published a shocker in 2009 with its cover story, ‘The Case for Killing Granny,’ preparing the masses to simply accept massive shifts in society’s norms as if it were a trifling occurrence. Unauthorized NSA wiretapping and other related surveillance (started long ago) was at least controversial during the Bush Administration, though it has unabashedly continued under Obama.
TIME magazine, March 21, 2011
In an promotional interview with CNN about the article, author Joel Stein makes light of the fact that his social security number (and lots of other personal data), as well as that of his family members, were easily found online. Stein and CNN host Kiran Chetry giggle like schoolgirls about Facebook’s exploitation of personal data, and the many other data-mining companies who keep “permanent files” on us. Stein even quips that he has “blackmail material” now on his mother and sister, whose SSN numbers he obtained during his research. Stein further called personalized-ads on systems like Google’s G-MAIL “kinda cool.” That’s right, now that we’re at the heart of a big brother system, 1984 is kinda cute-and-fuzzy.
Gadget, covering the upcoming TIME article, has posted an article ‘How to Opt Out of Everything Online‘ with information on how to opt-out from many of the online data companies. Below is the first of a long-list of resources and/or preference settings where you can lobby to take yourself off of the data-mining lists:
Oh man, strap in for this one. The NAI Opt-out Tool shows you all the big-name marketing companies that have installed tracking cookies on your computer and lets you opt out of some or all of them in one fell swoop.
While these options may improve some aspects of online privacy, don’t hold your breath. Your ISPs alone are likely storing complete records of everything you do, to say nothing of what the NSA and other intelligence outlets have underway.
It would seem the death of privacy and the 4th amendment is officially upon us. Morever, it’s something to be passively accepted and even laughed about. The TIME story has a publish date of March 21, 2011; the detailed story text is not yet available.